RSL players surprise hospitalized fan

Posted at 7:07 PM, Mar 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-01 21:25:53-05

SALT LAKE CITY - A Real Salt Lake fan got a visit from some of his favorite soccer players on Friday.

Richie Jeffs, a big RSL fan, ignored intense chest pain in October to watch the team play.

"He had an infection of his heart," said heart surgeon Craig Selzman. "His heart has been so ravaged by this infection that only about 10 percent of the blood was pushing out every time."

In Jeffs' situation, minutes are critical, but he didn't want to leave the game.

Jeffs had his first heart surgery that week, but he later had a stroke which caused him to lose his speech. Now he's waiting for a heart transplant.

RSL midfielder Chris Wingert and defender Nat Borchers surprised Jeffs at the hospital on Friday with a signed jersey and an invitation to sit on the sideline during a home game.

"We don't want anybody risking their health but at the same time we appreciate the support. And hopefully Richie will be back to recovery soon," Wingert said.

Jeffs' mom jokes that the team broke his heart that night because they lost. But the soccer stars say they're trying to make it up to him.

"He will remember this for a really long time, especially after all he's gone through," said Gloria Jeffs.